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    • Brief

    United States v. Briggs; United States v. Collins; United States v. Daniels

    Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondents.


    Argument: First, there must be a specific reason not to apply the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution to servicemembers. As there is no issue of military importance that excludes servicemembers from the protections of the Eighth Amendment, rape of an adult cannot be an “offense punishable by death.” Under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment, the crime of rape of an adult cannot be punishable by death. Petitioner has not met its burden to provide a military-specific exception for the application of the Eighth Amendment to servicemembers. Here, the Petitioner offers policy prescriptions and “national security” reasons which are insufficient to deprive a service-member of his or her constitutional rights. Further, canons of statutory interpretation require that Article 43 must be read to protect applicable constitutional rights. Specifically, sections in the same statutory scheme should be read in pari materia, or interpreted together. Article 43, at the time of Respondents’ alleged offenses, had no statute of limitations for crimes punishable by death, including rape, but established a five-year limitation otherwise; however, Article 55 prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, mirroring the Eighth Amendment. Applying Supreme Court precedent that precludes death as a punishment for rape of an adult, Article 43 read in conjunction with Article 55 requires that rape was subject to a five-year statute of limitations at the time of the alleged offenses. Lastly, civilian law must inform the interpretation of the UCMJ. The CAAF may not freely disregard Supreme Court precedent without a “legitimate military necessity or distinction.” Therefore, the CAAF’s decision to reverse Respondents’ convictions should be affirmed.

    • Brief

    State v. Booker

    Brief of the National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers et al. as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellant.


    Argument: Tennessee’s sentencing statute for first-degree murder, which mandatorily imposes a minimum 51-year term of prison confinement on a juvenile, without consideration of the teenager’s youth and immaturity or other mitigating circumstances, violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clauses and other provisions of the federal and state constitutions. In Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. 460 (2016), the United States Supreme Court held that, in light of contemporary understanding of adolescent psychology and brain development, it is unconstitutional to mandatorily deprive a juvenile offender of “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” Because a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for 51 years exceeds the expected life-span of offenders sentenced at a young age, it does not provide young offenders with the “meaningful opportunity” for release contemplated by the Supreme Court of the United States. A majority of state court decisions from outside Tennessee have held that term-of-years sentences of over fifty years do not provide young offenders with a meaningful opportunity for release. Further, after Miller and Montgomery, numerous state legislatures have enacted juvenile sentencing and parole procedures allowing juveniles the opportunity for parole within a much shorter time period.